Jamaica’s biggest problems are opportunities

Recently I read a post on LinkedIn titled “We need our brightest people working on our biggest problem “. The post was written by Bill Gates, who made reference to his foundation and their fight to eradicate polio and other global diseases .

Brightest Minds

Problems are opportunities disguised! Living in Jamaica, we can all relate to problems/ issues that militate against our productivity & efficiency. Depending on your perspective, Jamaica’s problems present opportunities for us to make a difference – while making a profit.

The main problem areas

1.High Unemployment & Low Production – opportunities for reducing unemployment & increasing production of goods & services are available in several emerging industries. Areas such as ‘medical marijuana’, ‘health tourism’, ‘sports tourism’, ‘Business process outsourcing’, ‘music production’, ‘Art & craft’ are showing great potential. Jamaica’s highly skilled, yet largely unemployed labour force is providing the impetus for greater investment (outsourcing – business processing, research, animation, graphics design, web development etc.).

2. Education – Education that creates producers not consumers. Education related to independent thinking, business & personal development, cash flow, personal finances and health is a great area of opportunity.

3. Health – Obesity is an insidious problem, related in some ways to a lack of education and indiscipline. Hypertension along with other life style diseases posed a significant problem for our people. According to a World Bank study, 60% of Jamaicans aged 35 to 54 were either overweight or obese. This same study also found that approximately 70% of Jamaican women were overweight, 80% of whom were in the 35-54 age group. Several drugs & medications are prescribed for mitigating the impact of these illnesses but the opportunity for entrepreneurs lie in the prevention of these alignments (Prevention better than cure). A few local companies have started exploiting the business of keeping people healthy & fit, but we still have a far way to go – more opportunities to exploit

4. Energy – we should continue to strive for a solar energy future. As solar panels become cheaper (Solar panel prices down 80%), we should start positioning our country to benefit fully from solar energy – more creative thinking is need to provide affordable solar energy solutions to Jamaicans. Currently most Jamaicans don’t have the wherewithal to install solar energy solutions – what can we do to change this? There is also potential to create employment through conservation & environmentally friendly initiatives.

5. Lack of data for decision makers – This area is under my purview and at Balcostics Ltd we provide research solutions that we hope will make information more affordable & accessible. Yet, we still have a far way to go – more opportunities abound in this field.

6. Inadequate water harvesting & storage – this is evident from Jamaica’s annual island-wide drought problems. In short, the National Water Commission (NWC) needs a competitor!

7. Slow Justice system – recently another US report criticized the sad state of Jamaica’s justice system. What if anything could new graduates & senior legal professionals who are unsatisfied with the status quo do to improve this situation? The ‘so called’ problem of ‘too many lawyers’ will hopefully provide the impetus needed to change the Justice system for the better.

Therefore, which of these problems will you make your mission? Which of these areas can you make just a little better? Which of these issues are you passionate about?

Do you have any to add? Please share in the comments below

Written by:

Luwayne Thomas (Founder, Balcostics Ltd.)

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here

 

5 Solutions to Jamaica’s Economic Problems

This discussion presents five ideas which will allow Jamaica to secure an IMF deal in the short-term, reduce Jamaica’s energy cost almost immediately and double Jamaica’s GDP in the next 10 years.

1. Sustainable Community and Skills Development Centre (SCSDC)    

Description: 

An actual SCSDC is a combination of a renewable energy (traditional) community center on steroids; a high-rise, renewable energy housing complex; and a renewable energy commercial center. Conceptually, the 24-hour security, gated community housing facilities should be made-up of 60 two bedroom units and 60 three bedroom units, encapsulated within the perimeter of the community center, which is itself within the perimeter of a forty (40) outlet commercial complex. The SCSDC will be equipped with three 1000KW solar generators to take advantage of Jamaica’s sunlight of 8 hours/day on average.

Additionally, roof-tops will be equipped with a Gym consisting of 1000 pieces of equipment which transform the kinetic energy from exercises into electricity. All general entry points should have revolving doors which generate electricity. A police station manned by five (5)officers on each shift, including two senior cops, is to be situated within the SCSDC. Eight member JDF teams are to be brought in, on three separate shifts each day, to provide skills training to persons in the surrounding communities within the walls of the SCSDC. Other civic and corporate groups, as well as individuals may also provide training. The police officers and soldiers will be paid by funds from the electricity. These payments are the return on the government’s mezzanine financing, and will be paid as long as the SCSDC exist.

2. Staggered Billing, Taxes and Fees (SBTF)    

Description: 

The SBTF is a process to stagger the deadline date of payment for different agents in the economy. This will allow for less persons acting at the deadline on any one given day and therefore reduce the need for additional resources on artificially stipulated, coinciding deadline dates for significant masses of economic agents. As an example, Motor Vehicle Registrations (MVR) could be issued such that they expire with exact time reference to the day of issue – MVRs expire six months, or a year to the day of issue. This way, deadline dates for renewals and payment are only dependent on the day each person was first issued a license, the right, or privilege to operate. As another example, companies would be allowed to file taxes and fees at different dates depending on their date of incorporation.

3. 5-5-5 Rule (Debt Exchange and Fiscal Responsibility) 

Description:   

The 5-5-5 rule is a hybrid between a debt exchange and a fiscal responsibility framework. The three 5’s communicate: (i) the rate of interest on all existing domestically owned government debt will be adjusted to a rate of 5 per cent or less within the next five years; (ii) the government cannot accumulate additional debt amounting to more than 5 percent of the five year moving average of GDP in any five year period, except in a global or regional economic crisis; (iii) The government cannot borrow at rates of interest exceeding 5 per cent unless at least one of the world’s largest five economies is borrowing at a rate above five percent on equivalent debt instruments.

The usefulness of the 5-5-5 rule is that it would help to reduce debt-servicing cost, and help to preclude high debt burdens in future periods. Of course, high debt burdens crowd out government spending on important social, human and physical capital. The restrictions imposed on government borrowing will put downward pressure on interest rates, and, therefore, mitigate any upward pressure on interest rates. Upward pressure on interest rates is anticipated as a result of the general policy stance of tight monetary policy and expansionary spending (fiscal and private sector combined) policy, which is also prescribed under this arrangement, and is necessary to stimulate the economy while avoiding inflation. Of course, lower interest rates will promote private investments.

  4. The Labor Sale Rule (TLSR)

Description: 

The Labour Sale Rule (TLSR) is a novel process by which the government provides a zero cost to the government, retroactive discount on the first year of multiple years of labour services employed by firms. The process is zero cost to government because while it is essentially a discount paid for by the PAYE taxes that qualified employees would pay, the process is such that all qualified workers would under normal circumstances not be expected to be employed in the absence of TLSR.

5. Firms Absorbing Civil Servants Initiative (FACS)

Description:

The FACS is a plan which will see private sector entities receiving a discount (see the “labor sale” rule) to absorb civil servants in a transfer of labor from the public sector to the private sector. This will assist in the reduction of the public sector wage bill, while minimizing unemployment which arises from the public sector rationalization/retrenchment. Additionally, with a smaller work force in the public sector the government’s pension obligations will be reduced.

Download a copy of the full paper (pdf): Click here

 

About the Author:

Darron Thomas

Pristine Enterprises Limited

Email: darron.thomas@gmail.com

 

 

At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here